If you live or have been to Vancouver, you may have noticed that there are a few sushi places around. And by a few, I mean 17,000. If you’re wondering what is happening to the depleted salmon stocks, we’re eating them. And we’re not paying much for them either. Of the 17,000 sushi purveyors, 16,915 of them are cheap sushi places where you will be eating an 18 piece combo and miso soup for $5.95. If you’re paying over six dollars you’re being ripped off.
Realistically Vancouver sushi needn’t be overwhelming, all you need to do is subdivide it into three categories: the frighteningly cheap, the non-sashimi, and the sashimi. What the hell am I talking about? Well, we’ve established that 99.5% of the sushi places are budget, almost fast food sushi, and so we just need to deal with the remaining 0.05%.
Non-sashimi is simple. These are the kinds of restaurants that have great fusion rolls, which occasionally consist of bizarre combinations like coconut flakes, octopus tendrils and chicken teriyaki. Why non-sashimi? In my self-important and elitist opinion, you either eat good sashimi or you don’t eat it at all. The rolls are often marvelous at these restaurants, but the sashimi is average at best. Good sashimi isn’t cheap. And usually these trendy little fusion roll places have fairly cheap sashimi, so I don’t eat it. Ergo, non-sashimi.
Sashimi places are where you go and spend money – places like Tojo’s on Broadway, Zen Sushi in West Vancouver, or Yoshi’s on Denman. By money I don’t necessarily mean an exorbitant price, but definitely more than 8 pieces of Tuna and Salmon sashimi for $8.95. If you happen to have a taste for mealy, half frozen fish, then please be my guest.
So if you’re looking for good sushi in Vancouver, but for an average price, where do you go? At one point I would have said Black Tuna on Denman, but sadly they closed down. I think I was quite possibly the only one who knew that they were there. On the bright side though, there is Kadoya on Davie St. near Thurlow. Closed until May 1 for renovations, this little sushi restaurant has to be the apex of fusion sushi. I interrogated my usual server about what was going to happen after the renovations and she promised me that the prices would stay pretty much the same. This could be a lie, but I’m choosing to believe her.
The rolls of choice are Sakura - spicy tuna and chopped scallop; Canuck’s - spicy tuna and salmon tempura roll with flakes of tuna bonito and butter (yes, this one can be a bit rich after the eighth piece); Paradise – essentially a dynamite roll with seaweed salad draped over it; and the best of the best Volcano – an unusual combination that takes a spicy tuna roll with pieces of scallop on top and a drizzle of a delicious black sesame sauce. The latter is in all honesty brilliant. I’ve encountered a few places that have tried to copy this, but something is lacking in their sesame sauces, and the result is something like spicy tuna and peanut butter.
The pricing has always been very reasonable. The service is borderline rude, which I personally don’t mind if the food is good and the price is also. If you want to be treated like a princess go have some authentic sushi at Moxie’s. The interior was a somewhat surreal wallpapering of neon comment cards written by people who apparently really dig Kadoya sushi. I’m actually going to miss those. There’s nothing quite like being able to read a sushi Haiku written by a Norwegian exchange student while sipping on a Kirin.